It's late. Your hike into the backcountry took longer than expected and all you feel like doing right about now is curling up in the fetal position to get some well-deserved rest. Unfortunately for you, you must first wrestle with the poles, the fly and the footprint. Oh, and we didn't even mention those pesky stakes.
Enter the REI Quarter Dome 2; the backpacker's blessing. Though not our ultimate dream tent, the Quarter Dome 2 is an ultralight three-season tent made with the on-the-go adventurer in mind. Coming in at just under 4 lbs., this lightweight two-person tent is well-ventilated, packs super small and offers enough room to breathe.
After researching backpacking tents for an upcoming trip, we bought this one at the recommendation of one of the staff members at our local REI. Perhaps the most attractive feature of this guy is, as you probably guessed, its weight. The unique REI-exclusive tension-truss architecture creates a relatively stable structure while minimizing pole weight. In fact, the tent is so easy to set up that we can do it in 5 minutes, even without the other person's help. It also makes moving around extremely easy as it packs up small and travels light.
In addition to its weight, the tent packs a pretty good punch structurally speaking. We've been caught in areas experiencing high wind and continuous, heavy rainfall, and have been kept bone dry. Likewise, when it's 95 degrees Fahrenheit and we have a yearning to sleep under the stars, we can throw off the rain fly and catch a good breeze from behind the tent's mesh exterior. It's important to note that the REI Quarter Dome 2 footprint is sold separately from the tent.
As great and as functional this tent is for our on-the-go lifestyle, we do have a few wish list items we need to point out. What the Quarter Dome 2 gains in weight it lacks in durability and spaciousness.
We'll be honest here: there isn't a whole lot of room to move around inside the tent, though you can sit up and lay down comfortably (albeit closely) to your tent mate. We do realize that the tradeoff for weight comes at the price of size and that's totally cool with us. We spend most of our time outdoors anyway. But during a rainstorm when you're sopping wet and just want to play cards or eat some dinner, it's not the ideal situation.
Our other issue lies in the fact that the tent offers relatively little protection from the elements. Though it's kept us dry in many a rainstorm, sand is another beast altogether. Without the option of a solid lining inside the doorway, the fine desert sand of Arizona's Monument Valley got inside our tent, coating our sleeping bags and making for a bit of an uncomfortable night's rest.
Bottom line: For hikers who want an ultra lightweight tent that packs small and sets up quick, this is the tent for you.
Cost: $299 for the tent / $29.50 for the footprint
Packaged weight: 3 lbs. 9 oz.
Floor dimensions: 90 x 54 (foot width) 44 inches
Floor area: 28.7 square feet
Peak height: 40 inches